The Wheels have officially come off the wagon for the Nashville Predators as they showed no fight in a loss to the LA Kings by a score of 4-1.
The Kings had their way with the Predators as they were able to do whatever they wanted in the offensive zone. By contrast, the Predators were impotent in their offensive and never mounted any serious pressure on Kings netminder Jonathan Bernier.
This continues the disturbing trend that the Predators have displayed in their previous three losses. Defensive breakdowns were the norm tonight. Many times, Kings were running loose in the Nashville zone. They were offensively dominant all night, and the Predators did not respond.
Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne made some great stops, but also let in some goals that he would like to have back. Rinne was pulled after the fourth L.A. goal midway of the second period, a goal on which he had no chance as he was being swarmed at the net.
Offensively, the Predators showed little grit and consistency. Passing was not very crisp and there was not much pressure in the Kings zone. Nashville continues the annoying trend of getting outshot in games by a large margin. Offensive "stars" have been invisible.
Here is a blinding flash of the obvious: that is not a formula for winning hockey.
Yet that is the type of hockey the Predators have played over their last four games, all miserable losses.
This is not the type of hockey that we expect out of the Predators.
This team is better than the effort they have displayed in these losses. I will not fall back on the injury excuse. Every team faces injury problems. This is a matter of heart and desire.
Characteristics that have been lacking in the last four games
There is no doubt that the Predators have faced quality opponents in this rough stretch. Good teams playing good hockey. Losing to a quality opponent happens.
Losing with a poor effort is unacceptable, however.
And our effort has been poor.
So it's up to you, boys.
Are you going to show heart and grit and effort?
My three stars:
1. Jonathan Bernier
2. Ryan Smythe
3. Anze Kopitar